Kettlebells and Neurology – Training Your Central Nervous System to Prevent Injury

Nancy B. Alston

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, encourages people to “begin with the end in mind.” In other words, Covey says, you don’t want to climb the ladder of success only to find that when you reach the top, the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.

I think that this is essential to success in any field, especially in functional training. Before you begin any training regimen, look at the individuals who have reached a high level in that discipline. Do you want to be like them?

Do you want shortened muscles, poor posture, and a neurological disconnect between upper and lower body? Then focus on traditional muscle isolation exercises, work out on the latest “high tech” contraption and follow the masses.

Do you want increased range of motion and true full body strength with upper, lower and core all working together synergistically? Then grab a kettlebell!!

Kettlebell lifts are psychomotor skills. Psychomotor skills are defined as complex sequences of actions that require perceptual information (input from the eyes, for example) and control of the muscles. What does that mean? It means that as your body performs the task, it learns. It also means that in addition to muscle growth, strength increase, etc., your body also creates additional neuronal connections to collect more information about the activity so that it can be performed better in the future. The bottom line with these types of activities is that the more you do them, the better you get at doing them.

A great example of a psychomotor skill is the golf swing. TA professional golfer probably has millions of more neuronal connections in his body that convey information about his swing than the average golfer. Why? Because, he has practiced golf multiple hours per day for 20 years. And each time he did, more neuronal connections were created, so that his brain could collect more information about what his body was doing. Consequently, the brain can make corrections and fine tune the activity.

The problem with the golf swing is that it has little application off of the golf course. So the neurons and neural connections that are formed as a result of practicing and improving your golf game are rarely used in everyday life. That is the beauty of kettlebell training in general and the snatch lift specifically. These movements form the basis for most everyday activities. The neurons that are created by performing these tasks repetitively are used all day, every day; lifting, reaching, standing, sitting, etc. If you are training properly with kettlebells, you begin to perform all activities in your life more efficiently and safely because your brain has more control over your body and less stress is placed in your shoulders and low back. Over the course of a lifetime, this results in fewer injuries, decreased risk of osteoarthritis, and better health.

© 2007 Ronald J. Tyszkowski, DC – All Rights Reserved

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